Young Building Professionals Look to Attract More Like Themselves

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health, Student Chapters by on June 19, 2019 0 Comments

With labor shortages in the home-building industry becoming exacerbated by the day, attracting new workers to the trades is a top priority for NAHB, HBAs, construction companies, schools, and all levels of government.

Included in that group are current young building professionals. With virtually their entire careers ahead of them, engaged young professionals know that the future of this industry is being defined right now.

Showcase the Diversity of Opportunities

“We have to show that home building has more viable career paths for young men and women,” said Jordyn Croom with Oakwood Homes in Colorado. “It’s much more than hard hats and hammers.”

Croom is at the very beginning of her home building career, but she is already active in her local association, the HBA of Metro Denver, and its Professional Women in Building (PWB) group.

She noted that her path to the home-building industry was paved during her education. Both Croom and her school, the University of Denver, were the recipients of scholarships and funding from NAHB and the National Housing Endowment — a point she echoed in a speech at IBS 2018:

Croom is currently interested in the operational side of home building, a discipline she learned in Oakwood’s Accelerated Leadership Program. As an associate in the program, Croom is rotating through various departments in the company, acquiring a multidisciplinary foundation from which to launch her career.

Local Schools Are a Key Asset

Innovative work experience is at the top of Myles Cardenas’ list of ways to attract young people into home building. The construction manager with Lennar in Georgia suggested that home builders should look to local schools for workers.

“Internships are a great way to draw in students who are looking for a career,” said Cardenas.

Myles Cardenas (second from right) accepts the 2018 Student Chapters One to Watch Award.

He also feels that engaging with NAHB student chapters in a formal internship program is the best way to get those interested in home building more engaged with NAHB and HBAs. Cardenas already has close ties to NAHB so early in his career: He is the vice chair of the Young Professionals group in the Greater Atlanta HBA and won the 2018 NAHB Student Chapters One to Watch Award.

Cardenas also noted that home builders need to fight for workers, even among those who have decided to go into construction. During his time studying construction management at Kennesaw State University, Cardenas saw that the commercial construction firms were far more aggressive and present than their residential construction counterparts — a point Croom echoed.

“Commercial builders dominate career fairs at schools,” said Cardenas. “I’m sure the recession and housing downturn had a lot to do with that, but home builders need to start coming back.”

Abraham Ahmed, a construction management/real estate finance student at Cal Poly, agrees that commercial construction firms recruit heavily on his campus. He thinks that home builders could be more aggressive in recruiting on campus.

“Maybe it’s as simple as an internship or job board/database targeted at construction students,” said Ahmed. “But residential needs to get in front of students in these programs.”

Although he has not yet graduated, Ahmed has already held two internships and is an active participant in the HBA of the Central Coast.

For Melanie Goerke, there was never a need to pitch the virtues of home building. She grew up in it. Now a project engineer with Oliver/Hatcher Construction, Goerke’s interaction with the home-building industry is more expansive than most recent college graduates.

She is an active member in the HBA of Southeastern Michigan after previously being involved with the HBA of Greater Lansing while studying at Michigan State University. Goerke also participates in the HBA’s PWB group. In addition to her job and HBA involvement, Goerke is a planning commissioner for the City of Farmington Hills.

“It’s incredibly important for young professionals to get involved on the local level,” said Goerke.

To attract more like herself into home building, Goerke notes NAHB and HBAs can “get involved at the college, community college or trade school level. It’s an easy way to access dozens of young professionals at once that have an interest in the industry. We need to know the type of support HBAs and NAHB can provide us during and after schooling to have a successful career and additional ways to get involved.”

NAHB is committed to workforce development and attracting more young people into the industry through the Student Chapters program. All the young professionals interviewed for this story are Student Chapter Alumni members of NAHB.

For more information on resources for young professionals, contact Topher McLarty.

For more information on NAHB Student Chapters, contact Greg Zick.

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